IFC is committing a grant of US$770,500 to BSP, under the Pacific Microfinance Initiative with the Australia Government. The support will enable BSP Rural, a subsidiary of Bank of South Pacific to connect to subsistence households and rural businesses far from the nearest branch.
According to IFC, the project will provide banking services to customers in Papua New Guinea's rural areas, by setting up electronic fund -transfer services in local shops or post offices, acting as agents for BSP Rural.
Under the grant agreement, IFC will assist BSP Rural in technology development, product distribution, customer literacy programs and call center management. This will enable people to obtain a debit and saving card and to do basic banking transaction or shopping in real-time using wireless technology.
The ceremony coincided with the opening of BSP Rural's Daulo Branch, the first under the program for the Highland Region. There are
currently six BSP Rural branches, and the bank plans to expand to about 200 branches in the country.
Mr Clyne said BSP is committed to opening rural banks for rural people and the branch at Daulo was important. He said IFC owns 10 per cent of BSP and they are helping BSP come up with new technology to bring banking to rural people.
"BSP is going to extend this to trade stores in villages; and have cash agents so soon you will be able to go to main trade stores in the villages, you can use your Kundu card and you can get money, you can also deposit money. With the assistance of IFC, we are going to develop mobile phone banking and many other things. This is a very important step in rural PNG and we are working hard to improve the services. For this type of thing to be successful in PNG, the community must understand that this is a social inclusion initiative from IFC and BSP. They must work together to make the branches safe and secure," Mr. Clyne said.
Mr. Thunell congratulated BSP and the community for the new branch in Daulo "because it is a very important step in rural banking. We are supporting banks like BSP in helping the communities, this is what we are about"
Wilson Thompson and George Kimio both community representatives expressed gratitude and thanked BSP for the service and said it will boost the local economy and they urged the community to take ownership.
The BSP Rural Kundu Card can be used at any of BSP's ATMs and Eftpos terminals nationwide. The card can be used to; purchase goods at stores and get cash out with your purchases, make ATM withdrawals, buy airtime top ups (mobile phones), print mini statements.
Those that sign up for BSP SMS banking can also use their Rural Kundu account 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to; receive funds from other registered accounts, buy airtime top-ups (mobile phones), receive balance enquiries and mini statements, no need to travel into town to do your banking. The Rural Kundu account is a pay-as-you-use account with a one kina (K1.00) fee being charged for each transaction as you use your account. There is no monthly account maintenance fee.